State education commissioner visits Leavenworth

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson speaks Tuesday at the Richard Warren Educational Campus. The meeting was part of a statewide Kansas Can Success Tour.

The Kansas commissioner of education said the state has increased high school graduate rates in recent years. But educators still need to figure out how this success can be achieved for all students.

"And that's what we're trying to do," Randy Watson said.

The education commissioner and Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander visited Leavenworth on Tuesday as part of a state tour.

Officials of the Kansas State Department of Education have been participating in the Kansas Can Success Tour. At each stop, they conduct what they refer to as a community conversation.

The 50-city tour is a follow up to a similar tour that was conducted in 2015. Following the earlier tour, the Kansas State Department of Education developed strategies based on input from the public.

Watson said participants of the 2015 tour placed priority on non-academic skills in addition to academics.

On Tuesday, Watson and Neuenswander asked members of the public for feedback about the priorities and strategies that were developed following the 2015 tour.

Tuesday's meeting took place at the Leavenworth public school system's Richard Warren Educational Campus. The meeting was the 43rd stop of the 50-city tour.

"We're here on behalf of the State Board of Education," Watson said.

He said Kansas has a goal of a 95% high school graduation rate.

"No state in the country has a 95% graduation rate," he said.

And no country in the world has a 95% high school graduation rate.

While Kansas has not reached this goal, the high school graduation rate in the state increased by 2.6% from 2015 to 2020, going from 85.7 to 88.3%.

"I think that's pretty remarkable," Watson said to the meeting's participants. "That's the hard work you've all been doing."

He said graduation rates also have increased among students whose first language is not English, students from poor families and students with special needs.

However, Watson said the statistics do not matter to parents of students who do not graduate.

"We're headed in the right direction," he said.

But he said educators still "have to get better at what we do."

Watson and other Kansas State Department of Education officials will wrap up the Kansas Can Success Tour on Thursday.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR